Mavs take win from Ambassadors heading into tourney play

Connor Martin blocks a shot by Trace Thackerson in the AC vs. Clinton game. Clinton won 54-44. (photo:Collin Riggs )
After two hard losses to Clinton in two weeks, the Mavs got a much-needed confidence boost when they hosted the Knoxville Ambassadors.

After a rough start in which the Mavs trailed for most of the first three quarters, Anderson County roared back to life to win by a comfortable 85-68.

Despite the rocky start, the Mavs dominated on most stats for the night, winning on two-point baskets (20-18) and treys (13-5). The place where the Mavs almost shot themselves in the foot, though, was free throws. Anderson County gave up 20 free throws to the Ambassadors, who ended up with 17 points in total from the shots.

The Mavs couldn’t stop fouling, ending up with 17 before the end of the night, which stood in sharp contrast to the Ambassadors’ seven. Apart from that, though, the only places where the Ambassadors won over the Mavs was on steals (9-8) and points off of turnovers – which, with 17 fouls, is to be expected.

Connor Martin was the lead scorer for the Mavs with 20 points, including four treys, and a phenomenal 12 rebounds.

Martin also finished with three assists, three deflections, three blocks, and a steal for a breakaway night.

Behind Martin, Stone Hatmaker came in with 15 points, as well as three assists and two steals, followed by Brandon Webb with 12 points, as well as two assists and two deflections.

Other notable standouts for the night were Brandon McGhee, who finished with five assists, four deflections, and three steals, and Eli Varner, who finished with four assists.

Mavericks Coach Derek Wallace said that he thought the game went well, and it gave the team some much-needed momentum going into tournament season.

“We went 2-2 last week,” he said. “I felt good about that. We played well against Clinton after the first quarter. I thought that was some of the best we’ve played all season. Then we followed that up with the Ambassadors, which was great for the seniors, and just a fun night. It’s nice momentum going into the tournament.

“I thought everybody played well,” Wallace said. “I thought Stone was solid, along with Carter Jett and Brandon Webb. All the seniors had good nights. Connor found his shot, and that’s good. He’s been upbeat and confident in practice this weekend and that’s good. He needs to be confident about his shots. I feel good this week going into the tournament.”

With it being senior night, Wallace also talked about the players that have excelled this season, including those who put points on the scoreboard, and the players that contributed to the team in other ways – whether that be through being good teammates or good defenders, or just being a good person.

“I really want to congratulate Carter Jett and Connor Martin for making all district,” he said. “Eli Varner was honorable mention for a third year in a row, and he’s a glue guy for us. Carter and Connor score the most points, but Eli defended some big guys in the league before Anthony White was healthy, and now that Anthony came back, he’s accepted everything we asked of him. He’s an unsung hero for us. He’s a D1 basketball player and doesn’t have to play with us, but he’s out here grinding with us – and I don’t think he always gets the credit he deserves.

“Stone Hatmaker, too, has been such a lift for us this year. He’s been a good teammate, and he did an amazing job guarding Jackson Garner.

“He’s not a kid that cares about points, but he’s started to make some threes and open the floor up for us. I think also getting Luke Lowry back after missing since early January with an ankle injury — hopefully it gives us some more depth.

“Finally, we’ve got Mr. Consistency for us this year: Brandon Webb. He transferred from Powell last year. He makes threes and plays inside. He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s got a huge heart, and has 100-percent made us better this year just by being out there. He’s got a five-star heart, as Butch Jones said.”